I love hands-on meals like these spicy shrimp lettuce wraps that you have to assemble yourself. It allows you to get creative and even a little childish with your food. Have you ever watched your friends assemble their own tacos, burgers, or lettuce wraps? It's only after doing so that you learn who they really are... like the ones who put potato chips on their burger instead of beside it.
What's in these Shrimp Lettuce Wraps?
I've found reliable shrimp at Trader Joe's. I buy their raw, frozen, devained, tail-on shrimp, and I've never been disappointed. It's worth buying a few bags of shrimp at a time to keep in your freezer. They thaw nicely either overnight in the refrigerator, or for a couple hours in a bowl filled with cool water. (leave shrimp in the bag to defrost)
If you buy shrimp already de-veined like I do, you'll just have to squeeze off the tail before cooking them, which is very easy to do. You can opt to leave them on, but that would make for a more challening eating situation.
I recently wrote a blog post citing some simple ways to use Calabrian chili peppers in everyday cooking. So if you're looking for other ways to use this ingredient, look no further.
Calabrian chilis provide an excellent alternative to things like hot sauce, chili flakes, and fresh chilis.
I usually use Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce AKA Fermented Crushed Calabrian Chilis. The fermentation makes them so flavorful and complex. You can also find these diced peppers at some grocery stores and most Italian specialty markets.
I find peanut-based sauces to be so creamy and flavorful, and I especially love to pair them with something spicy and something acidic, such as the Calabrian chilis and pickled celery salad in this recipe.
What's a lettuce wrap without rice? When making rice I typically follow package instructions for timing.
Also, make sure to rinse your rice! Rinsing it will keep it from becoming sticky or gummy as it cooks. Place the rice in a pot, cover the rice with water, and pour out the water. Do this 3 times.
Watch me do it in this TikTok video "The key to perfect white rice."
Use good crunchy romaine lettuce. It's slightly bitter, a little sweet, and pairs nicely with the starchy rice and spicy shrimp.
The Process of making Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
Make it vegan: If you want to make it vegan, use extra firm tofu instead of shrimp. I sear tofu all the time, and it has the potential to brown nicely as long as you squeeze all the water out of it first.
Allergies: If you're allergic to peanuts, use a different nut butter, or even tahini in your spicy sauce.
You might also like...
Cascatelli with tomatoes and corn is another Asian inspired recipe that uses fish sauce, scallions, and lime as its delicious dressing.
Wasabi pesto happens to be vegan but works perfectly tossed into shrimp.
A delicious combination of spicy nutty shrimp and luscious white rice wrapped like a present inside a crunchy piece of romaine lettuce.
For the Peanut Sauce
- 3Tb rice vinegar
- 2Tb peanut butter, preferably chunky for its texture
- 1Tb chopped Calabrian chili peppers
- 1Tb sesame oil
- 1Tb soy sauce
- 2Tb olive oil
- 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled, devained, tails removed
- 1c white rice (measured dry)
- 2 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separate
- 12 butter lettuce leaves, or 6 halved romaine leaves, for wrapping
- Mise en place: Prepare your shrimp first by making sure they're fully thawed and removing their tails. Toss with a pinch of salt and pepper and set shrimp aside. Prepare lettuce cups by washing and drying several lettuce leaves. Set them aside. Rinse the rice 4 times. Cook it per package instructions. While the rice cooks, make the spicy peanut sauce by whisking together the first 5 ingredients. Set it aside. Slice scallions and set these aside as well.
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to the skillet in an even layer, and top with the scallion whites. Cook shrimp for 2.5 minutes, flip, and cook for 2.5 minutes on the other side. Shrimp may start to stick to the pan, which is a good thing.
- Once the shrimps have cooked through, add the peanut sauce, scallion greens, and a splash of water to the pan, which will help deglaze any burnt-on bits on the bottom of the pan. Toss to coat shrimp and cook until most water has evaporated and the sauce clings to the shrimp. This should happen quickly, 1-2 minutes, if your pan is hot enough.
- Allow each person to assemble their own lettuce cups with rice and shrimp.
Keywords: shrimp wraps, shrimp lettuce wraps, Calabrian chili pepper recipe